Published on July 28th, 2012 | by Greg0
Ecobee: A Better Thermostat
Recently, there have been some major improvements in home automation, a category that was feeling a little static. Not long ago, smart power meters were promising a connected household with eco-friendly results and cost savings for consumers, but a variety of technical issues have left that dream, for the most part, unrealized. Most households still don’t use remote-controlled outlets or lighting, despite (or perhaps because of) the number of solutions on the market- Zigbee and X-10, Z-wave and Insteon. We’ve checked out a few of these systems, and still hold out hope for the future though.
And one of the latest gadgets to make us optimistic are smart thermostats. For instance, we’re fans of the ecobee Smart Si Thermostat, a wi-fi enabled, smartphone-controllable thermostat that is Zigbee-compatible and easy to use. In New York City during the summer, central air is of key importance in making sure that we actually can get any work done, but older thermostats weren’t very good at regulating the temperature. We regularly had to adjust it manually, and trying to program it would take a manual, plus there was no easy way to examine the settings, much less adjust them from afar.
The ecobee isn’t perfect- the user interface isn’t quite as slick as, say, some Apple products. But it’s sophisticated and offers tons of configuration options. You can setup modes like awake, away, home, sleep, or create vacation settings, and we loved the unit display, with simple readouts of indoor and outdoor temperature. There isn’t a touchscreen on this model, but it didn’t seem necessary, since we could use our smartphones or tablets to adjust settings. No annual fees, and remote accessibility made this an easy-to-like thermostat. Installation isn’t too bad- there are four wires for air conditioning and perhaps a bit of work to mount it, but it’s straight forward enough that most people can probably do it themselves.
The design looks sleek, if a bit traditional, but should fit in most any home or apartment. And native apps for both Android and iOS devices are free. We definitely appreciate the ecobee, and you will to- especially if you want to manage your home temperature in an eco-friendly way. Available now, online and in stores, for the fairly reasonable price of $200 or so.